As a full time working mum and wife I love this time of year – being with my friends and family – in a warm house and food on the table.
However it was not always like this. And sadly is not for many families across the UK right now either.
Christmas time on many occasions growing up was a period of dread, anxiety and darkness.
I remember the anguish my mum went through to try and give us gifts that she could not afford. We would never have been given anything “designer” or “cool” as it was not within the budget.
Mum was a single parent with four kids and living off benefits, trying to supplement this by working when she could.
We barely had money for electric let alone gifts or a nice meal. But she tried her best and often went without to make sure we had something.
I remember being envious of others at Christmas when they were able to open many gifts on Christmas day – surrounded by love and happiness.
We on the other hand felt sad, cold and full of anxiety.
It became a “no big deal” day in my head.
I made sure I was in hospital with my eating disorder issues during those times as I felt huge inadequacies as a sister, did not want to face the battles over eating “something” and I felt a huge burden so being out of the way was my way of trying to help.
To me it began to be a pattern of mental anguish not only in my own house and head, but in the psychiatric wards I was in. They would fill up during the festive period as people could not cope with the pressures or relationship strain it would often bring.
It’s no coincidence that January is one of the busiest times of year for therapist due to this pressure. Suicides would rise and still do.
To this day it never leaves me – the feeling of inadequacies will always remain.
Now as I try my hardest to give my family a great Christmas – I also do all I can to raise awareness of the desperation some people may be feeling at these times.
I hear people say “money does not buy happiness” but it can sure give you heat and food on the table and that’s the basic needs of every human for us to grow and flourish. I’ve never heard anyone who can’t afford to eat coin that phrase and frankly I find it quite an insult to those who really don’t have any and would love to find out.
So this year spare a thought to all of those people having a tough time…reach out, make sure your all ok, and be honest about what you can afford to do.
And if you can - give as much to those who need your help at this time of year as it could be the life changer they need…